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Taboo of Buying Social Media Accounts and Followers: A Line Between Legitimacy and Deception

As someone in the marketing field for many years, I’ve seen the profound influence social media has had on our personal and professional lives. It has become a powerful tool for individuals and businesses to share their stories, build their brands, and engage with their audience. Along with this power comes a suite of ethical dilemmas, including the contentious practice of buying social media accounts and followers. Is it a harmless shortcut, a pragmatic tactic, or a deceptive maneuver? This blog aims to unravel this complexity.

Background and Rising Popularity

Social media has changed how we communicate, share information, and do business. As these platforms grew, so did the competition to amass followers and attract attention. An easy solution to this challenge emerged: buying followers or even entire social media accounts. Initially seen as a shortcut to rapid growth and perceived legitimacy, this practice gained traction, enticing many to jump on the bandwagon for a competitive edge.

The Ethical Debate: Is It Okay?

The ethical implications of buying social media followers or accounts are complex. Detractors argue it’s fundamentally dishonest, artificially inflating a brand’s perceived influence and undermining the authenticity social media engagement should represent. Supporters, however, view it as a practical marketing tactic akin to traditional advertising, where impressions are bought, not necessarily earned.

Legal Implication

While buying social media followers or accounts might not be explicitly illegal, it is generally considered unethical and is against the terms of service of most social media platforms. Here are some legal implications to consider:

  1. Violation of Terms of Service: Most social media platforms have explicit clauses that prohibit the purchase of followers or accounts. Violating these terms could lead to penalties, including account suspension or deletion.
  2. Fraudulent Practices: In certain circumstances, buying followers or accounts could be viewed as a form of deception or false advertising, mainly if it’s used to mislead customers or partners about the brand’s popularity or influence. While the legal consequences depend on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances, businesses could face lawsuits or fines for deceptive trade practices.
  3. Data Privacy: In some cases, buying followers might involve unethical or illegal data practices. For instance, if follower bots are created using stolen identities, this could result in legal issues related to identity theft and data privacy.
  4. Trademark Infringement: If you’re buying social media accounts, there might be potential legal issues regarding trademark infringement. If the username or content of the account infringes on another brand’s trademark, the trademark owner could take legal action.

Remember, this advice is general, and the legal implications can vary greatly depending on specific circumstances and jurisdiction. Always consult with a legal professional like to understand the potential legal risks involved in your particular situation. 

Benefits of Buying Social Media Accounts and Followers

Buying social media followers or accounts is a practical strategy. It can propel an account’s growth, increasing visibility and making it appear more credible in the eyes of prospective followers. An account with a large follower count might seem more reputable, potentially attracting organic followers and offering monetization opportunities.

Pros and Cons of Buying Social Media Accounts and Followers

Like any strategy, buying social media accounts and followers has pros and cons. The benefits include rapid growth, perceived legitimacy, potential organic growth boost, and increased visibility. But the practice also has significant drawbacks, such as a lack of authentic engagement, potential reputational damage, violations of platform policies, and a poor return on investment due to low conversion rates from unengaged followers


  1. Quick Growth: Buying followers allows for immediate growth in numbers, potentially making an account appear more influential.
  2. Perceived Legitimacy: A higher follower count can enhance perceived legitimacy and reputation.
  3. Potential Organic Growth: A larger follower count can attract more organic followers, contributing to a bandwagon effect.
  4. Increased Visibility: More followers mean higher visibility, potentially leading to more organic reach and impressions.
  5. Rapid Market Entry: New businesses might find buying followers helpful for quickly establishing an online presence.
  6. Attracting Sponsorship: Influencers looking to attract sponsorship might find a more significant follower count beneficial in demonstrating potential reach.
  7. Social Proof: Many followers can provide social proof, encouraging others to follow the account.
  8. Competitive Advantage: The quick growth can provide a temporary competitive advantage over competitors with smaller followings.
  9. Time-Efficient: Buying followers is a quick process, requiring less time than organically building a following.
  10. Business Consolidation: Buying the other company’s social media accounts during mergers and acquisitions can consolidate its online presence.


  1. Low Engagement: Purchased followers are typically not genuine and, therefore, unlikely to engage with content, leading to low engagement rates.
  2. Damaged Reputation: If discovered, the practice can damage a brand’s reputation and lead to a loss of trust.
  3. Platform Violation: It violates the terms of service of most social media platforms, which can lead to penalties, including suspension or deletion of the account.
  4. Lack of Targeting: Purchased followers are unlikely to fall within your target demographic, leading to poor conversion rates.
  5. Unsustainable Growth: The initial spike in growth from buying followers is usually followed by a stagnant or declining engagement rate.
  6. Fake Accounts: Many purchased followers are fake accounts or bots, which can discredit your brand.
  7. Low Return on Investment: Considering the low engagement and conversion rates, the return on investment can be common.
  8. Unreliable Suppliers: Many services selling followers are unpredictable, and you might not get what you paid for.
  9. Loss of Organic Followers: Genuine followers might unfollow if they discover the practice affecting your organic growth.
  10. No Customer Loyalty: Purchased followers are unlikely to convert to loyal customers, as there is no genuine interest in the brand or its offerings.

Situations Where Buying Social Media Accounts and Followers May Seem Beneficial

There are circumstances where buying followers or accounts might seem like a good idea. New businesses seeking a rapid market entry, companies amid mergers and acquisitions that want to consolidate their online presence, or aspiring influencers needing a significant follower count to attract brand partnerships might consider this practice. However, even in these situations, weighing the potential benefits against the inherent risks is essential.

Perspectives from Social Media Platforms

Most social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, take a firm stance against buying followers or accounts. They enforce policies that penalize such behavior and invest resources in identifying and managing such violations. This is because these platforms prioritize organic growth and genuine engagement, recognizing that these elements are integral to their users’ value.

The Psychology of Numbers: Perception vs. Reality

Numbers have a psychological impact. A high follower count can make an account appear more influential and trustworthy. However, this can be deceptive. True engagement, crucial for any successful social media strategy, cannot be bought. Authenticity and genuine interest from followers often outweigh the mere presence of high numbers.

Alternatives to Buying Followers: Building an Organic Following

For businesses seeking a sustainable and ethical approach to social media growth, there are alternatives to buying followers or accounts. Building an organic following may take more time and effort, but it’s typically more beneficial in the long run. This strategy is vital to crafting a compelling brand narrative, consistently posting high-quality content, engaging genuinely with your audience, and leveraging SEO and social media best practices.

“Authenticity, honesty, and personal voice underlie much of what’s successful on the Web.”

Rick Levine, author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.

The Value of Authenticity: Genuine Engagement Over Numbers

In today’s digital world, consumers value authenticity more than ever. They crave real connections and genuine interactions, which are difficult to achieve with an audience of purchased followers. High-quality, relevant content and meaningful interactions with your followers are far more valuable than inflated follower counts with low engagement.

Final Thoughts: Balancing the Scales in the Social Media Landscape

The dynamic landscape of social media marketing presents both opportunities and challenges. On one side of the spectrum, we have the practice of buying followers and accounts, a quick path that offers immediate visibility and perceived credibility. Conversely, we have the organic and slower approach of building a genuine and engaged following.

Both these strategies have their potential merits and drawbacks. Buying followers or accounts may boost numbers, helping new businesses or aspiring influencers make their mark. Yet, it carries risks – from potential violations of platform policies to reputational damage and possibly a lower return on investment due to the lack of authentic engagement.

On the contrary, building a following organically requires time, effort, and patience. It relies on consistently delivering high-quality content, fostering genuine interactions, and providing real value to your audience. While this approach may not yield quick results, it enables deeper connections, resulting in a more engaged and loyal following.

In conclusion, organically buying followers or growing an account isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. It requires carefully evaluating your unique situation, objectives, and values. Depending on the specific context and goals, the best approach may lie somewhere between or veer more towards one side.

Ultimately, social media is a tool, and how we wield it will significantly influence our success. Remember to balance your immediate goals and long-term strategy, whether you take a shortcut or the longer, scenic route. After all, social media is not just about numbers but about creating valuable connections and meaningful engagement.

Alex Wibowo
Alex Wibowo
A seasoned executive with 23 years of experience in harnessing technology and marketing to drive business transformation. Known for achieving significant sales growth and turning traditional brands into digital leaders. Firm believer in collaborative leadership and stakeholder engagement, and skilled in creating effective teams using the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) method. Always prepared for the next challenge, valuing collaboration and connection as keys to future growth and success.